Here's the Keys
What: Club that provides
high-end luxury cars to its members
Who: Richard Weisman of Exotic Car Country Club
Where: Pompano Beach, Florida
When: Started in 2002
As the owner of a wholesale exotic car dealership, Richard Weisman would hear several of his clients complain about how much they hated losing money on their Lamborghinis, Porsches and Vipers when they traded in their cars. Inspired by those complaints, the 41-year-old entrepreneur decided to launch a second business designed to provide a solution to that very problem.
Today, the members of Weisman's venture, Exotic Car Country Club, pay a $250,000 membership fee (refundable if a member decides to leave the club), plus $1,800 per month in dues. In return, they get the privilege of driving whatever car they want for up to three months. Plus, Weisman ships the cars anywhere in the continental United States.
"We don't keep an inventory of cars like a rental agency, because you end up with a bunch of used-up cars. We buy them for clients as they ask for them," says Weisman, who resells the cars through his dealership. Although his clients, who include athletes and movie stars, number fewer than 20, Weisman expects his business to reach $15 million in sales this year.
Making a Mint
What: An online college fund
Who: Peter Davis of BabyMint Inc.
When: Started in 1999
It costs more than $100,000 to raise a child for 18 years and an additional $100,000 to send him or her to college. That financial burden inspired Peter Davis, 33, to develop a free money-saving program for parents.
Using the skills he'd learned as a developer of customer loyalty programs for Luv's and Proctor and Gamble, Davis launched BabyMint with an initial $10,000 investment. "I saw the need from a number of perspectives-the consumer's need and the retailer's need," he says. "New families [are] the most coveted demographic because they spend 86 percent more than the average consumer."
His concept is simple: Parents visit www.babymint.com to print coupons for brands like Huggies, Keebler, Kellogg's and Motts or buy gift certificates for items they'd purchase anyway. A percentage of what they spend goes directly into their child's educational savings account. What's more, grandma, grandpa and other family members can also contribute by linking their purchases to the account.
Currently, BabyMint's 500,000 registered users can visit 200 online merchants and more than 500 brick-and-mortar merchants, such as Blockbuster Video, Crate & Barrel, Macy's and Pizza Hut. A newly launched credit card rebate program allows a percentage of all purchases to be rebated to the savings account. Sales are expected to exceed $20 million in 2002, thanks to partnerships with 18,000 advisors from established financial institutions that market the program to parents with existing college savings accounts.
What: Stylish medical ID
Who: LeAnn Carlson and Denise Gaskill of Lauren's Hope Medical ID Bracelets LLC
Where: Kansas City, Missouri
When: Started in 2001
after learning that her baby-sitter, a diabetic teenager named Lauren, refused to wear her medical ID bracelet because she thought it was "ugly," Denise Gaskill, 35-with help from LeAnn Carlson, 42, her business partner of several years-decided it was time that they started a brand-new business. As they turned their personalized children's gift company into Lauren's Hope, the partners found a new calling: designing medical ID bracelets that kids and adults would find fashionable.
The pair came up with a patent-pending concept-medical ID tags that are linked by interchangeable bracelets. Since starting the venture, Carlson and Gaskill have designed 30 different styles retailing for $39.95 to $79.95. The lifesaving bracelets are marketed through diabetes educators and doctor's offices, as well as on the company's Web site (www.laurenshope.com). "If you're in an emergency situation and you're wearing it on [your] wrist, any EMT who takes your pulse [will] flip it over and see it," says Gaskill, who projects 2002 sales to hit $300,000. "It serves a purpose, but it's fashionable, too."
- Exotic Car Country Club